I’ve been using coconut products for years and now you can find everything from coconut cream to coconut flour in your grocery store baking aisle. Coconut milk is a wonderful alternative to pasteurized cow’s milk or to rice, almond, soy, or other plant-based milk, and you can find this at most stores as well.
Unfortunately, canned coconut milk at the store usually contains BPA in the can lining. New refrigerated carton varieties are somewhat better but can be expensive and have added sweeteners or preservatives. Not to mention the cost and packaging generated for what is — let’s face it — mostly water!
Fortunately, making coconut milk at home is very simple and inexpensive! From my calculations, homemade coconut milk costs less than $1 per batch. We use it in smoothies, curries, ice cream, or just to drink by itself. It can also be flavored with natural vanilla, strawberries, or cocoa powder. (Yum!)
How to Make Coconut Milk From Scratch
Coconut is packed with medium-chain fatty acids and lauric acid with a host of health benefits — one of the reasons coconut oil has become so popular. My kids can’t get enough of it and I love that it is full of the healthy fats that are especially good for growing bodies.
Best of all, you only need two ingredients to make coconut milk and one of them is self-stable! Grab some unsweetened shredded dried coconut from the pantry, add some hot water and a blender, and voila — fresh coconut milk!
Another bonus: this recipe takes minimal prep time and clean-up. You don’t have to have a nut milk bag for a strainer, either (although it is nice if you make coconut or almond milk from scratch often). I have used a towel or some cheesecloth in a pinch.
I’m experimenting with creative ways to use the coconut pulp when I’m done… let me know in the comments if you’ve found a favorite way to use it!
Coconut Milk Recipes to Try
Coconut milk works great for vegan, dairy-free, or paleo diets. Here are some recipes to try with your freshly made creation!
- Tom Kha Gai (Thai Coconut Soup)
- Coconut Curry Chicken (Quick Instant Pot Recipe)
- Coconut Milk Irish Cream Recipe
- Strawberry Coconut Milk Ice Cream Recipe
- Coconut Mango Popsicles (With Probiotics)
- 10 Other Ways to Use Coconut Milk
Try this inexpensive way to make coconut milk:
Homemade Coconut Milk Recipe
- 4 cups water
- 1½-2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
- Heat water until hot, but not boiling.
- Put shredded coconut in blender or Vitamix and add the hot water. If all the water will not fit, this can be done in batches. See instructions below.
- Blend on high for several minutes until thick and creamy.
- Pour through a mesh strainer to remove most of the coconut solids.
- Squeeze the strained liquid through a towel or several thicknesses of cheesecloth to remove remaining pieces of coconut.
- If you had to split the water into batches put all the coconut that you strained out back in the blender, add the remaining water, and repeat.
- Drink immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days after making for best flavor and texture. Since there are no preservatives or fillers, the "cream" of the coconut milk may separate to the top if stored in the fridge. Just shake or stir before using.
- Vanilla coconut milk: ½ tsp vanilla extract
- Strawberry coconut milk: ½ cup pureed fresh or frozen strawberries
- Chocolate coconut milk: 2 tsp cocoa powder + ½ tsp vanilla extract
Ever made coconut milk before? Planning to try sometime? Offer your favorite tips below!